Though it’s well past midnight, the Copper Pot is not quiet. The lights are on, and a diminutive goddess bustles about, grumbling and causing a clatter of dishes and a scraping of chair legs. Kyri appears irritable as she stalks around her café, dusting shelves, wiping tables and straightening chairs.
“Sod this!” she shouts, stamping her foot and throwing her cleaning cloth at the café door. “All this mortal cleaning is pointless! I’m just creating more mess!”
“Then why do it?” asks Brew, dodging the projectile cloth and closing the café door behind himself as he walks in.
“Oh. It’s you. I’m guessing you heard all of that,” says Kyri scowling at a cobweb in a corner.
“Kyri, I’m guessing that the whole street heard you. Must be that opera training,” says Brew, chuckling.
“Oh,” says Kyri, blushing, “I’d forgotten about that.”
Taking a seat in the corner, Brew continues, “And anyway, if you hate cleaning the mortal way so much, why do it?”
“I don’t know why! I guess I figured with Jack hanging around, I’d best get back into practice doing things the old-fashioned way,” explains Kyri, ruefully.
“Well, if you’re going to continue that way, can you avoid throwing anything else at me?” asks Brew, still trying and failing to hide his mirth.
“Hmph!” exclaims Kyri, clapping her hand, causing all of the dust and dirt in the room to vaporise, leaving the room and Brew shining and faintly lemon-scented.
“Hey!” moans Brew, touching his face gingerly. “Did you really need to include me in that cleaning spell?”
“Well, if you’re going to sit in my nice, clean café, it’s only fair that you should be nice and clean too,” says Kyri, flouncing back to the counter.
“And lemony,” sighs Brew mournfully. “This shirt had character! There were smells I’d been bringing along for weeks. I’m gonna have to start all over.”
“Oh, poor thing,” says Kyri, unsympathetically. “I’m guessing that you’re here for some cake? How about some chocolate cake with a glass of stout? Will that make up for your dearly departed smells?”
“That might help. Only a little,” says Brew, still feigning sadness. Then he brightens. “But hey, now I won’t need to take a bath this month!”
As the cafe door bell jingles again, Chime enters, sniffing the air. “Lemony,” he says, nodding to Brew casually.
“Don’t even mention lemon-freshness,” says Brew.
“Now, now Brew,” says Kyri, “some people like cleanliness. And how are you, my darling Chime?”
“’m ok,” mumbles Chime, blushing and avoiding eye contact with Kyri, as he sings,
“Just wanted to know
If I could play the pi-a-no.”
“Of course you can, pet!” coos Kyri, touching Chime’s face, causing his blush to deepen. “Provided that you use the front door to come in, you are always welcome here.”
“Um, th-thanks,” stammers Chime, retreating to the piano.
As Chime sits at the piano, Kyri walks to Brew’s table with a large slice of cake and an even larger glass of beer.
“Looks like you’re here at the right time,” says Kyri, placing the cake on the table. “The kid’s talented, very talented.”
“I don’t think the piano’s the only reason he’s here,” says Brew, watching the youth play as he digs into the cake, getting dark crumbs all over his briefly clean shirt.
“Aw, look at you Brew, all concerned and fatherly. It sounds like there’s a heart of gold under that beery, no, lemony exterior,” laughs Kyri. “And what can I get for you?” calls Kyri, across the cafe to Chime. “Cocoa? Lemonade? Something stronger?”
“Lemonaaade, for a lemony room,”
replies Chime, playfully singing over the blues he is playing on the piano.
“Just the thing to make a beer god fume.”
“You know, blues and lemonade just don’t match,” says Brew, taking his beer with him to the piano. “Bourbon? Yeah. Beer? Always. But lemonade? I don’t know,” he continues, shaking his head in mock sadness at the prospect of non-alcoholic beverages.
“But I’m just a kid, y’all get up in my biz
Sayin’ just too darn young to know what real blues is
No drinkin’, no lovin’, none of that for me
But in my dreams, hellhounds won’t let me be,”
sings Chime with a bitter quietness.
Brew looks at him sadly. “Sorry, kid. You and the others’ve been through a lot–”
“Life’s been so dark, best stick with lemonade
Me playin’ with booze, be like jugglin’ grenades
If you was a kid, wouldn’t wanna be in my shoes,
I got the ‘Merri ’n’ Cherry Mother-Hen Blues’,”
sings Chime, bursting into laughter at the end.
“I feel ya brother,” says Brew, chuckling and quaffing his stout. “Well, I ain’t never had a mother, but I got stuck in this one ward once where they’d gone and outlawed booze. Can you believe it?”
Chime’s face shows his surprise as he plays.
“And how did you dodge the blues
You big ol’ god of brews?”
“Son, by the time I left, they were singing my praises and hoisting their tankards high.” He smiles at the memory.
Kyri shakes her head. “It’s not easy being fifteen, is it, dear? I remember when I was.” She shudders at the memory. “The first time was bad enough! I don’t know what possessed me to reincarnate so many times!”
Chime looks surprised and sings,
“Bein’ a teen, caught in between
Everyone treatin’ you like you are green
Choosin’ to do it again and again
You make it sound like somethin’ insane.”
“Yes, reincarnation, it was all the rage for a couple of centuries there. You just keep…” Kyri pauses, her face blanching as she looks out the front window at a small crowd gathering there. “But maybe this isn’t the time. We have guests, and not of the friendly coffee-and-cake variety.” The piano falls silent.
Brew squints into the darkness outside. “Hey, that’s that stupid Frog-eater guy! What’s he doing back here?” says Brew, stepping protectively in front of Kyri and Chime. “Um… Kyri, I know I can get him drunk, but I can’t do that without getting us all drunk. Does your music work on him?”
“He’s got no ears,” says Kyri, shaking her head, “and I’d be willing to bet that his new bunch have some magic to make them immune.”
“Well, Chime, I always figured fifteen was old enough to drink anyway,” says Brew, awakening his divine powers, causing the bitter and sweet smells of barley and hops to fill the room. “Get ready to be totally plastered.”
“Cool.” Chime tries to grin but looks frightened.
Kyri, her face concerned, spins and takes Chime by the shoulders. “You go out the back, dear!”
“But Kyri,” Chime starts before being cut off by the little goddess.
“Run to the station as fast as you can, and get Inspector Sky,” she insists. “Don’t stop for anyone! Scoot!”
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” mutters Brew, looking around for a weapon. “Go on, son–”
He’s cut off as the window shatters and something huge slams into him.